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Let the Controversy Begin!!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Laurajean, May 20, 2010.

  1. Laurajean

    Laurajean Slightly Touched

    Apr 2, 2010
    New Hampshire
    I know people are going to have a lot of opinions about this, but I wanted to post something that happened today.

    I've been thinking about bringing my chicks (17 days old) outside for a very short time, so they could check out the grass and sunlight, etc. I also know that people have been giving their chicks "treats". So I wasn't sure if they ate the grass, if they would need grit or if they would find the dirt, etc. So before I brought them out I stopped into my local Blue Seal Feed for some grit.

    There is a lady there that everyone calls the Chicken Lady. She's been raising chickens for over 25 years and everyone turns to her for advice. I asked for grit, and one woman said, "Oh, you mean with Oyster Shells?" (or something to that effect), and I said, "No, they are just chicks". The Chicken Lady overheard this and asked why I wanted grit. I said because I wanted to start feeding them "treats". She said "No, do not feed them treats until they are fully feathered. And you don't need any grit because the chick starter has ground cornmeal that acts as grit". The chick starter that I bought from them does have small granules and larger ones.

    So, I'm surprised and said "Really? Everyone on the chicken message board is feeding their chicks treats". And she said "I don't care, don't give them treats yet". So then I said, "Well, I was planning to bring them outside for a few minutes today since it is warm (it was about 80). What if they eat the grass, is that okay?" She said, "Do not bring them out yet, they will catch a cold. They need at least 85 degrees right now, you will only make them sick by bringing them out. You need to wait longer".

    Now, I know I have read on this board about people bringing their chicks out, and giving them treats, grit, etc. But this woman has given me advice since before my chicks arrived. Even though her advice doesn't jive with what a lot of people on this board say, so far she has never steered me wrong.

    I am not an expert on chickens at all, I am new to them. But I do know that I've gone in there to purchase things and she will outright tell me if I do not need them, so to me, that speaks of her honesty. By the way, a couple other employees were there for the conversation and nodded and agreed.

    So, I realize lots of you won't agree, and bring your chicks out anyway, and feed them treats anyway, but I was curious if anyone agrees with her advice, and what you think about this in general. I by the way, "chickened" out on bringing mine outside and decided it wasn't worth finding out if she was right or not. Won't kill them to wait a while longer, I do know that much!
  2. Princess Amri

    Princess Amri Is Mostly Harmless

    Jul 16, 2009
    I took mine out when they were a few days old and they were fine.

    As long as you keep a close eye on them and take them in if they start shivering, panting, or panicking, I think it's a good idea to let them go outside. [​IMG]
  3. HathawayHens

    HathawayHens Songster

    Apr 14, 2010
    DeLand, FL
    Yeah, as long as they look warm and happy, they are fine. What about little chicks out with their momma? Would she suggest that they be brought inside too? But do what you'd like... certainly no harm in waiting, I guess...
  4. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    Western MA
    eh.. feed them the darn treats with chick grit.. and take them out for a little while...

    the lady sounds a little uptight if ya ask me...
  5. Germaine_11.20

    Germaine_11.20 Songster

    Jun 6, 2009
    Hmmmm what does she do with her broody hens? Mine lead those chicks around as soon as pop out from under her. And they eat what is on the ground.

    She means well but I think is a bit overprotective. And I have little ones running all over the place and it can be a little breezy. If they look cold then I round them up and put them back in the brooder.

    Plus I know that I have read that chicks reared on soil are much less likely to get cocci than chicks raised in brooders and then put on soil when they are older.
  6. felidaet

    felidaet Songster

    Dec 10, 2008
    Vancouver, Wa.
    I take mine outside after they are about a week old. I only take them out if it is warm, sunny, and no wind. I only leave them out for 15 - 20 minutes when they are a week old. I increase the time as they get older. I have chick grit available to them in it's own container on the first day I take them outside. From then on it is available to them 24 x 7. The first couple of times out I let them run around on the grass. After that they are welcome to check out the garden it they want.

    My chicks for this year are now 5 - 7 weeks in age. I am going to fence off a section of the run for them this weekend. Next week I will start opening the door on the coop for them to go into their portion of the run when they want.
    Last edited: May 21, 2010
  7. Jkioneil

    Jkioneil Songster

    Apr 29, 2010
    i take mine out too and no problem. i just say with them and bring them in when i come in. they love treats and grit and climbing alover my dog! As long as they stay really active it is fine. i just keep a open eye. really it is about doing what you are comfortable with. you soud like you feel really good about the chicken lady's advice. i say take it. maybe she knows more bout your area than we do. alwasys better safe than sorry . your heart knows what you feel is right just listen to it. what are you hoping we will say? when you hear that it has been good for us do you feel relieved and compelled to let them outside...or does it make you anxious and wonder what if? you know what to do.
  8. chicken_china_mom

    chicken_china_mom Crazy for Cochins

    Apr 24, 2009
    Tab, Indiana
    I start taking mine out right around 3 weeks old. Right about the time they hit 21 days old. I'm actually excited because I'll be taking the next group out in just a few more days, but I'm worried about one little one because while everyone else is feathering in nicely, this chick is not feathering in at all. It grew in tiny tips of wings, and that was it. Everyone else is in various stages of feathering, depending on their sex and breed. I had trouble with this little one right from hatching though, and it hasn't grown much, if at all, since it hatched, so I'd only bring that one outside if it was somewhere around 80, which we haven't been experiencing lately. But I had my 5 week olds outside most of yesterday and it was only 70, and they LOVED it! I've been taking them out since they were 3 weeks old, and the group before them. As summer comes and it gets warmer out, I'll start taking new chicks out sooner, but I don't want to take brand new babies out if there is a risk of the temp dropping. But your babies are the same age as mine and they should do fine outside. Stick close to them and if they look cold, pick them up and cuddle them. A mama hen would push them underneath her, so they would settle down easily if you cup them. I have a nearly 7 week old little roo that thinks he still needs to be cupped, even when it's not cold out, lol. I let mine try eating grass first, and I keep a fresh supply of their feed and water at hand. They'll try the grass a bit, and maybe a weed, but not too much more. Around 4 weeks old mine discovered worms, but they didn't know what to do with them, so after playing keep away, they dropped them and wandered off. This week though, they figured out what to do with those yummy worms! They played keep away only because they were trying to swallow those big ole worms, lol! Personally I haven't offered my chicks grit, but there's so much rock and sand in my soil that they grab the little bits and gobble them up. I don't even offer my adult birds much. Never had problems. I'm sure the oyster shell I give my adults helps a lot though. Take your babies out if the weather is nice. Enjoy your afternoon. Lay in the grass and let them explore around you. You won't be disappointed with their antics. Oh, and remember to bring a camera cause they will do the CUTEST things!
  9. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    I'm in South Florida, you're in New Hampshire, so my methods may be different from what's best for you. I like to put my chicks outside ASAP for the simple reason that I would rather they leave as much of their poop as possible out in the grass. I use a bottomless wire cage, the top of a rabbit cage, and move it around as needed. I put a board across the top for shade & to discourage the hawks.

    During our "cooler" months I'll keep chicks inside for a few weeks, but once they get big enough that their daily poop becomes a nuisance, out they go. They will peck at the grass & weeds, and like to take little dust baths in the dirt. When they're kept in a brooder box I'll pull up clumps of grass with the roots & dirt intact for them to peck at, & give them pans of dirt for dust-bathing.

    Many of my chicks are hatched by broody hens and they take their kids out the day after they hatch. She will lead them to tasty things to eat besides their feed.

    But I don't give my chicks, the brooder ones or the hen-raised ones, many treats because I think they do best with grow food as their main source of nourishment. I don't have any firm rules or timelines for this, just seem to give the treats to the clamoring older birds instead. And since my chicks get out in the dirt I don't give them extra grit.

    I think it's great that you have such an experienced chickeneer so handy there. I'm sure she knows a LOT from her 25 years of experience. Soak up everything you can learn from her. AND do a lot of reading & learning from other reliable sources too. AND spend a lot of time learning from your chickens themselves. You'll find that even the "experts" disagree about certain things. It's like child-rearing, there's not always ONE right way to do things, and in the end it's up to you and what your gut tells you to do.

    Edited to add: Of course I bring my brooder chicks inside at sundown until they get feathered out. They're at risk not only from the damp & cool night air but also from all sorts of predators including snakes. The hen-raised chicks have their own heat & protection.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2010
  10. PaulaJoAnne

    PaulaJoAnne Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Our chicks are born outside, and on dirt and all manner of green things from day one.
    If they are with a mother hen, she will teach them to eat and scratch from nature right away.
    I hope that is not considered controversial, lol! Its just the laws of nature.

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